March 20, 2015 9:07 pm

Central Okanagan housing market bounces back


KELOWNA — The real estate market saw a sluggish start to the year, but that all changed quickly. Last month was one of the best in recent history. Industry experts say a combination of  low mortgage rates and a growing economy are encouraging first-time buyers to make the big purchase.

“We are seeing acreage sales up, condo sales up, but mostly single-family homes under $500,000 that seems to be driving the market,” says Kelowna real estate agent Tracey Vrecko.

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Compared to the same time last year, total residential sales went up by more than 45 per cent, while sales of single-family homes soared by 68 per cent.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board says low mortgage rates and a growing economy contributed to February’s booming sales.

“It’s the strongest Februarys in something like 10 years,” says the board’s executive director, Lynette Keyowski.

“This bodes well that Kelowna, and the Okanagan in general, is coming out of that recessive state. It’s not only on the road to recovery but is certainly becoming more buoyant again.”

But with the plummeting oil and gas industry in Alberta, fewer people from that province are in a position to buy.

Keyowski says there’s been a decline of about 6 per cent decline of out-oftown buyers month over month, particularly those from Alberta.

Despite the statistic, realtor Vrecko says she’s still selling homes to people from Alberta, but to a different demographic than the oil patch workers she is used to seeing.

“My last three buyers are from Alberta,” she says. “They’re here for a change in lifestyle, better climate, or a better economy.”

For people who are looking to buy, Vrecko predicts there will soon be even more homes to choose from.

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